Monday, February 07, 2011

"Relatives Of Missing Toddler Given Polygraph Tests"

Here's one that seems a bit unusual to me.
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas -- Relatives of a missing New Braunfels toddler said police are asking them to undergo polygraph tests in an effort to locate the 18-month-old boy.

Joshua Davis Jr. was reported missing by his parents, who told police they last saw their son around 8 p.m. Friday inside their home in the 2600 block of Savannah Hill Circle.

Police, along with other law enforcement agents and volunteers, combed a wooded area near the family's home all weekend but did not locate him.


"We're going to be retracing some of our steps," Lt. Mike Penshorn said Monday morning. "Also, we are still interviewing a number of the people associated with the child and, of course, we're expanding that where we have quite a few people that we are bringing just to talk to find out what did happen in this case."

According to Jerome Davis, Joshua's grandfather, that also includes administering polygraph tests to everyone who lives in the household.
(from KSAT-12)

I didn't think law enforcement could use polygraph tests in the course of a criminal investigation (or, at the very least, that the test results couldn't be admissible in a trial). Am I wrong? I am not a lawyer, so I don't know for sure, but I hope the family members of that missing boy don't get a raw deal out of this.

I hate polygraph tests. They don't measure the veracity of any statement, they simply measure how nervous a person is while making that statement, and that anxiety could be caused by the mere fact that person is taking a freakin' polygraph test!

I know people will say, "If you're telling the truth, you have nothing to hide." But no matter how truthful you are the test measures only your nervousness, so if you're spooked by the test to begin with you could still fail it even while being honest and straightforward. The results all depend on the person administering that test and how adept that person is at shaking up the subject to extract a confession. It's nothing more than traditional interrogation aided by a contraption that the general public seems to believe is capable of detecting the truth. And the test administrators count on that belief to get their results!

For the record, yes, I was once forced to submit to a polygraph. The results? I failed it. The administrator thought I had something to hide when, in fact, I didn't. It said I lied when I told the truth. Nothing adverse happened to me because of that test, but I've been spooked by the experience ever since.

1 comment:

Sabra said...

I know they're not admissible in court. I hear of them being used now & then in investigations. I would guess that the thinking is if you refuse the test, you think you'll flunk it because you have something to hide.

The whole situation is pretty fishy. An 18-month-old can't get that far. Alive or dead, he should have been found by now. (And yes, I realize he could have been carried off by a predator animal or kidnapped. Neither, sadly, is as likely as having been killed by a relative.)